By Lisa Carter and Shonda Novak
Published: 9:21 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
An abandoned condominium project on Enfield Road will no longer be a neighborhood blight , thanks to its acquisition by heirs of former Austin Mayor Roy Butler.
Formerly known as the Pleiades condos, the unfinished steel-and-concrete shell at 1603 Enfield Road was purchased in December by 1603 Enfield Ltd., a private investment group led by the Butler Family Interests. The price wasn’t disclosed.
First State Bank foreclosed on the project in 2008. The buyers include Roy and Ann Butler’s three children, Eddie Butler, Roy Butler Jr. and Beth Granger.
Construction had halted in 2007 because of legal, financial and weather-related problems. In the years since then, the building has been tagged with graffiti and vandalized.
Now, the project — a new name hasn’t been settled on yet — is getting a fresh start.
Eddie Butler hired Fortis Realty Services, an Austin-based development and investment company, to lead the redevelopment of the $6 million project.
When completed in the early fall, the project will have 25 condominiums priced from the mid-$100,000s to the high $300,000s, Fortis President Rance Clouse said. He expects to start marketing the units in the spring.
Clouse said the structure “had really become a blight on the community and the immediate neighborhood.” The Butler family’s goal is to transform it “into a property that the community can be proud of.”
“While this is a real estate development, for those of us involved, it’s an opportunity to really make a positive impact on the neighborhood by addressing a problem and contributing more than just bricks and mortar,” Clouse said.
Ann Butler, who lives near the development, said that she suggested her children take on the blighted project along a prominent thoroughfare and said that neighbors are “thrilled” it will be going away.
“I’m the one in the family who lives closest to it, and it kept getting worse looking and worse looking because of the weather, and with vandals going in there and trashing the place and sleeping in it,” she said. “Everybody in the neighborhood has complained about it forever.”
Fortis will work within the existing city permits and approvals for the project, which originally held plans for 30 units.
After the Butler family’s acquisition, work immediately began to clean up the property, starting with the removal of debris and standing water that had created a large mosquito pond in the driveway area, Clouse said.
The architect is Kit Johnson of Architecture 365, which also designed the Este and Twenty-One24 condo projects in East Austin.
“We’re correcting the design flaws and the construction defects and moving forward with the proper completion of the project,” Clouse said.
“Along the way, we’re making aesthetic changes,” he said, to make the project more compatible with surrounding neighborhoods, which include the Old West Austin and Old Enfield neighborhoods.
One example: the previous developer used corrugated metal on the exterior siding; the new design calls for stucco and stone.
Clouse will make renderings available once the design and layout of the new units are completed by early spring. The interior specifications will come later.
“It’s like doing the renovation of a classic car. We’re focused on the engine and haven’t gotten to the leather or the dashboard yet,” said Clouse, a real estate veteran who was a development partner in 904 West, a sustainable mixed-use condominium project in downtown Austin.
At the Enfield site, crews are working on paving the parking areas and framing the building.
“We felt it was long overdue that someone address the completion on this project,” Clouse said.
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